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39 AF points vs 11 AF points

ric hunter , Jun 13, 2011; 12:16 a.m.

hi guys, im choosing between a Nikon D90 and Nikon D7000 but i just want to be practical. if most of my shots would just involve landscape, street photography, people at their candid moments, parties and events, and some macro and wildlife..., (i dont shoot sports that much, it requires a hefty lens)
would the 39 AF points of the Nikon D7000 a huge advantage over the 11 AF points of the D90?

i would like to invest on lens but im just wary that if this feature affects the quality of sharpness on my photos regardless of what lens i use...
would the D90 be enough? is the D7000 too professional for me?
what else should i consider aside from the number of AF points?

thanks so much for your professional input...!


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Andy L , Jun 13, 2011; 01:13 a.m.

In addition to the AF points, the D7000 adds the latest sensor, metering with manual focus lenses and some other things, but those are the big ones. If you want to save money, yes, the D90 is still a good option. A lot of are using either it or one of the other models with the same sensor (D300/D300s and D5000). If you can afford it, the D7000 represents newer technology that does better in low light situations, and you might yet find a use for the improved AF. (The AF points also include more cross-type points, which handle better in lower light.)

Owen O'Meara , Jun 13, 2011; 01:15 a.m.

I love having the most focal points as possible. I have a d7000 and that is one of the features that I love the most. I also have a d300 and love the fact that it has 51. Because of problems I have with my shooting eye I admit I have a bias. The great high ISO performance of the d7000 should also be taken into consideration.


ric hunter , Jun 13, 2011; 01:39 a.m.

@And and Owen: thank you for your response. i was just a bit confused although i was leaning towards the D7000. i was just thinking if there is really no noticeable differences with those areas i mentioned above then i would just go for the D90 and save the rest of the money for great lenses other than the kit lens provided...

John Deerfield , Jun 13, 2011; 01:39 a.m.

The D90 is a remarkable camera for the money. No one but you can decide if you need more focus points. In general, you can use just the center focus point to focus on the subject and then recompose the camera to frame the shot as you would like and take the picture. Now the focus and recompose method is NOT recommended if you are shooting portraits wide open because of the shallow DoF. In this case, it is better to frame your shot and choose your focus point (or better yet: manually focus). And, more focus points come in handy when you are trying to continuously track/focus on moving subjects.... say birds taking flight.

i would like to invest on lens but im just wary that if this feature affects the quality of sharpness on my photos regardless of what lens i use...

Good glass is always a good investment and both the D90 and the D7000 will be more of a camera than most will ever need. There are very, very few situations where a D7000 will produce a better image all else being equal. The biggest limitation will be your knowledge and technique.

Allan Armstrong , Jun 13, 2011; 01:46 a.m.

The D7000 has two fundamental advances over the D90:

  1. sensor improvements: more pixels (no big deal, just marketing) and better low-light sensitivity
  2. more AF points

If you are shooting sports, more AF points is helpful, but you also need more buffer depth.
If you are shooting landscape, nature, etc., the D90 AF is sufficient. Indeed, I have been using a D90 for sports and it has been ok.
Having more pixels feels nice, but I'm not convinced it makes a big difference. Lens resolution, even of good primes and pro zooms, is no better than 10ish Mpixel.
Better low-light performance is important if you are shooting indoors without strobes. That means indoor sports (I always shoot outdoors) or other indoors stuff. Will you be shooting these? Low-light performance is probably the big differentiator for the D7000.

Leslie Cheung , Jun 13, 2011; 02:07 a.m.

The d7000 also meters with older manual focus lenses. I would call that another a fundamental difference. Whether or not that matters to the OP is another story...

The d90 has the same AF module as the d200, not the greatest but works alright unless sports or fast action is involved. While the d7000 is much nicer, the d90 should do for OP's need. Another option is the d5100. It has the same sensor as the d7000 but has the d90 AF module, I believe, at a lower cost.

Andrew Garrard , Jun 13, 2011; 06:58 a.m.

I can't vouch for 39 vs 11, but I can say that my shooting style changed completely between my Eos 300D (7 points) and my D700 (51 points). With the 300D I almost always used the centre point and recomposed. With my D700, unless I'm trying to focus at the edge of the frame, I usually move the focus point to the subject; on rare occasions I might focus at the centre and let the subject track across the frame as I recompose if this is faster than using the joystick. How many more shots I get in correct focus/exposure I can't say - I didn't have any fast lenses for Canon that would have shown up a lot of missed focus - but I'm confident in using wide apertures on the D700 where I might have worried about focus-and-recompose. It's also useful to be able to track a subject with a composition defined relative to the subject.

That said, I don't do too badly with a Pentax 645 or a Bessa R, neither of which have autofocus at all...

Elliot Bernstein , Jun 13, 2011; 07:27 a.m.

39 Vs 11 focus points - You really only need one!

"would the D90 be enough?" The D90 would be great for you, and at about 1/2 the price of a d7000, is an exceptional value. You won't be disappointed. You can get some really nice lenses (if you want) and/or accessories with the money you save.

Except under the most extreme conditions, if you were to take and compare side-by-side shots with the D90 and d7000, it would be difficult if not impossible to tell the difference between the two bodies (all other things being equal).

Shun Cheung , Jun 13, 2011; 09:32 a.m.

The D90 would be great for you, and at about 1/2 the price of a d7000, is an exceptional value.

Elliot, in the US, a new D7000 with Nikon USA warranty sells for $1199.95. Could you tell us where you can get a new D90 with USA warranty for $600? $600 would certainly be great value for a brand new D90. However, the prices I find from B&H and Amazon.com are more like $800.

The D7000 has a lot of advantages over the D90:

  • Much better AF
  • Much better construction, weather sealing
  • Considerably improved low-light capability
  • Dual memory cards
  • Better live view mode, much better live view/video AF
  • 1080p HD video
  • Improved EL-EL15 battery
  • Metering with no-CPU AI/AI-S lenses (although I no longer use such lenses myself)

To me, the many advantages on the D7000 means in a lot of situations, I can get excellent shots with the D7000 while the D90 can easily miss them in many occasions. E.g., I find the fact that the D90 has only 1 cross-type AF point very annoying indoors.

I would say if the price difference is only $400 and you can afford that, I would just get the D7000 to eliminate any doubts in the future. If you can find a new D90 for $600 and money is tight, the D90 is worth considering. You can buy a very decent lens with $600.

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